Terminator Genisys is never not visually engaging, whether you want to see the ridiculous action or you just want to see exactly where it's going to go next.
The action is fun. Some of it riffs on scenes from earlier films - the T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun) is back, as is a younger version of Schwarzenegger's Terminator - this time with really good de-aging CGI, unlike the atrocity that was seen in Salvation - and their scenes wind up playing out as different versions of the ones seen in The Terminator and Terminator 2. There are some chases, a couple too many robot-on-robot battles, and one or two perilous moments. Terminator Genisys is never not visually engaging, whether you want to see the ridiculous action or you just want to see exactly where it's going to go next.
When there isn't action, which is a rarity, we get some dialogue, which accomplishes one of three things: (1) Exposition attempts to explain to Kyle, the audience fill-in, why everything is what it is. (2) A terrible romance between Sarah and Kyle that is every bit as awkward, unnecessary (except for plot/time paradox reasons), and poorly written as most other obligatory romances. (3) Comic relief, mostly coming from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Terminator Genisys is the funniest Terminator movie to-date, and that actually helps its case. It'll have you laughing more often than you expect, and not unintentionally; the laughs are intentional and genuine.
Our lead is Jai Courtney - something that should never happen. He's not as bad here as he normally is, if only because he's such a lackluster screen presence compared to his co-stars that he kind of fades into the background whenever he's not the sole entity on-screen. It's not his story, anyway. Emilia Clarke is charismatic and tough as Sarah Connor, taking over admirably from Linda Hamilton. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as an aging Terminator - "old, not obsolete" - is the best he's been since ... probably the third Terminator movie, actually. This is the role he was born for, and the best acting he's ever done is as an emotionless robot. He gets the funniest lines, he can somehow still handle the action, and while I thought I'd hate seeing him as an old-looking Terminator, it works well enough and is explained away reasonably well.
Terminator Genisys is a busy, relentlessly paced movie that doesn't really stop to let you think about the issues it has as it's playing. It's fun in the moment, but won't exactly leave you with a whole lot once it finishes, and might frustrate you retroactively. It's got plot holes, time travel issues, and a complete lack of depth - but its action, sense of humor, opening scenes, and two of its lead actors make it a passable movie. Does it hold a candle to the first two films? Of course not. But is it watchable? I think so. I enjoyed it while it was playing, even if it's not going to stick with me for long. Terminator has been somewhat successfully rebooted. Let's see where they go from here.
Bottom Line: A semi-successful reboot of the Terminator franchise with a silly story, lots of action, decent humor, tons of plot holes, moments of nostalgia, and too much wasted potential.
Recommendation: If you wanted to see a modern update of Terminator 2, or just want a passable Terminator movie, Genisys satisfies both of these desires.
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